The mainframe is not dead, and IBM is doing its part to ensure that big iron will not be going anywhere for some time.
Big Blue announced on June 1 its intent to acquire EZ Legacy (EZSource), an Israel-based application discovery company, to help developers easily understand and change mainframe code based on data displayed on a dashboard and other visualizations. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
The ability to quickly evaluate existing enterprise applications and modify them represents a critical piece of the digital transformation puzzle. IBM is intent on helping its customers transform their organizations for the digital age by gaining value out of their mainframe assets. The company will integrate its expertise in hybrid cloud, the API economy and DevOps with EZSource's mainframe application modernization technology.
EZSource provides a visual dashboard that shows developers which applications have changed to ease the process of modernizing applications, exposing APIs and opening up development resources.
IBM's decision to acquire its long-term partner EZSource is largely driven by the fact that the digital transformation and API economy is estimated at being a $3.75 billion market, and to capture some of this share, companies must first understand and modify legacy mainframe software to be at the center of their digital enterprise, IBM said in a post by Mary Hall, an IBM marketing and social media staffer, on the IBM Mainframe Insights blog.
"The mainframe is the backbone of today's businesses," said Ross A. Mauri, general manager of IBM z Systems, in a statement. "As clients drive their digital transformation, they are seeking the innovation and business value from new applications while leveraging their existing assets and processes."
Combining EZSource's offerings with IBM's will obviate the need for developers with specialized skills handling processes that previously were manually intensive, Mauri noted.
IBM's API management solutions, including z/OS Connect and IBM API Connect, integrated with EZSource's technology will help connect services from core mainframe applications to new mobile, cloud, social and cognitive workloads, IBM said.
"While they have always been highly exaggerated, rumors of the IBM mainframe's death continue to circulate," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "The platform's notable longevity and success are due to numerous factors but first and foremost has been IBM's efforts to continually evolve mainframe technologies and make them relevant for new business processes and use cases."
King said this deal should add a few more years to the mainframe's "remarkable" life.
Meanwhile, IBM's DevOps offerings, such as IBM Application Delivery Foundation for z Systems and IBM Rational Team Concert, will combine with the EZSource software to help developers migrate legacy mainframe apps faster.
IBM said EZSource provides developers with information about which sections of code access a particular entity, such as a database table, so they can easily check them to see if updates are needed. Without the advanced analytics in the EZSource solution, developers would need to manually check thousands or millions of lines of code to find the ones that need to be changed.
EZSource delivers three key products:
-- EZSource:Analyze, which provides a graphical visualization of application discovery and understanding for developers and architects;
-- EZSource:Dashboard, which offers multiple categories of application metrics for managers and executives; and
-- EZSource:Server, which integrates with third-party source code management, workload automation and CMDB tooling systems to provide application to infrastructure mapping.
"The subtext of IBM's purchase of EZSource is the critical importance of reconciling and integrating new mobile and social apps with traditional backend 'systems of record'—particularly the IBM mainframes residing in major banks and financial organizations that power 30 billion business transactions every day," King said.
Supporting and streamlining the integration process is crucial for IBM and its customers since failure could cripple emerging processes, like smartphone "pay" apps, he added.
Meanwhile, enabling a newer generation of developers to support the mainframe has been Compuware's mission for the last several years. Tools that provide deep application understanding via visualization enable both mainframe and non-mainframe developers to manipulate mainframe data and implement code changes, faster and with fewer mistakes, Compuware said.
"As businesses increasingly compete via digital means and the mainframe serves as a back-end server for mobile and web front ends, development teams must keep pace with the requirements of modern application delivery," Chris O'Malley CEO of Compuware, told eWEEK. Compuware's Topaz product has offered visualization tools since January 2015, he said.